Urinary Dysfunction: Frequency, Risk factors, and Interventions in patients with Cancer during Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation

Jegy Mary Tennison, Annie Pally, Bryan Michael Fellman, Ouida Lenaine Westney, Eduardo Bruera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Urinary dysfunction has a strong impact clinically, socially, and economically. Although the development of acute urinary dysfunction in hospitalized patients with cancer is common in clinical practice, its occurrence and management strategies are scant in the literature. It has been reported as one of the more common medical complications in patients with cancer undergoing acute inpatient rehabilitation. This study assessed the frequency of and risk factors for acute urinary dysfunction among these patients and identified the interventions used for management. Methods: This is a retrospective study of consecutive patients admitted to a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center’s acute inpatient rehabilitation service from 9/1/2020 through 3/15/2021. We excluded patients that were readmissions during the study time frame. We collected patients’ demographic, clinical, and functional data. We defined acute urinary dysfunction as the development of any new urinary symptom(s) or diagnosis, which involved additional work-up and/or management after admission to the acute inpatient rehabilitation service. Results: Of the 176 total patients included in this study, 47 (27%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 20-34) patients had acute urinary dysfunction. The most frequent diagnoses were urinary tract infection (32%) and neurogenic bladder (26%). The most common tests were urine cultures (32%) and urinalyses (30%). The most commonly prescribed medications were antibiotics (32%) and alpha-1 blockers (15%). Other most frequent interventions included timed voiding (34%) and intermittent catheterization with bladder scans (28%). Acute urinary dysfunction was associated with an increased length of stay on the inpatient rehabilitation service (odds ratio [OR], 1.13; 95% CI, 1.06-1.20; P<.001), surgery during the index admission (OR, 2.50; 95% CI, 1.21-5.16; P=.014), and fecal incontinence (OR, 6.41; 95% CI, 1.83-22.44; P=.004). Conclusion: Acute urinary dysfunction was noted to be a substantial problem in this cohort. This is an overlooked dimension of inpatient cancer rehabilitation that deserves more attention. Patients at risk for acute urinary dysfunction may benefit from close monitoring for medical management and rehabilitation interventions to maximize functional independence with bladder care. More research regarding acute urinary dysfunction types and management approaches in post-acute care settings for patients with cancer is justified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-305
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023


  • inpatient
  • lower urinary tract symptoms
  • neoplasms
  • pelvic floor
  • risk factors
  • urinary disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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